Thursday, June 02, 2005

ACT protecting property rights

ACT's Rodney Hide gave a speech yesterday in which he resurrected the New Zealand Party slogan from 1984, 'Freedom and Prosperity.'

Nothing wrong with that, it's a great slogan, and if a party's policy being enacted is a measure of election victory, then Bob Jones's New Zealand Party won that election by a mile. Bob Jones always maintained that selling the 'prosperity' part of the package was easy, it was selling people on the 'f-word' that was a little more problematic.

So it is with Rodney's speech.

Rodney declared that in order to be free and prosperous, we need four things: Tax cuts, Tighter control of government spending, Sanctity of private property rights, and Freedom to contract. A few things missing there, but let's agree that all these are necessary, if not sufficient.

I'm particularly happy that Rodney is in favour of protecting property rights, so I leapt straight to that section of the speech to see how he proposed to protect them. Property rights, you see, are a bulwark of freedom and the key to both prosperity and environmental success -- and to freedom -- and they've been under vigorous attack from the Local Government Act, the Public Works Act and the Resource Management Act for some years now, as I'm sure Rodney knows.

They're under attack now in Auckland City from Hubbard's new board of aesthetic advisors; they're under attack in the Upper Clyde with the decision to disallow Shania Twain the right to build her house on her own land; they're under attack in the Waikato with a bullying SOE trying to force pylons and power lines across the property of unwilling farmers; they're under attack in Greater Auckland with the Auckland Regional Council's 'Plan Change 6' -- hell, property rights are under attack everywhere!

So what is Rodney proposing for the protection of property rights? After rightly bemoaning the present state of affairs, he declares ACT "will ensure that property rights are never taken without compensation." Huh?! That's what ACT call protecting the sanctity of property rights? Subsidising theft? Sheesh!

Tell the Waikato farmers that's what their property rights are worth. Tell that to Shania Twain, and to Andrew Borrett, jailed for five months for clearing bush on his own land. Tell that to the ratepayers of every council in the country who will be up to their eyeballs in debt to pay compensation to people who don't want it, but who just want their property rights protected.

Unfortunately, this disgraceful apology for property rights -- the idea that property rights = compensation for 'takings' -- has also gained traction in the US, where it is known as 'eminent domain.'
This is not the sanctity of private property rights, this is legal plunder. Time for a rethink, Rodney.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Berend de Boer said...

I thought you had a point, but then I want to the speech.

These kinds of distortions should be below your level PC.

6/02/2005 03:19:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Well. I'd love to know what you think that sentence means, Berend.

When it comes to the fine print of what exactly Rodney proposes to protect the "sanctity of private property rights" it is, 1) "ACT will pass a Regulatory Responsibility Act to ensure that politicians and bureaucrats have to answer basic questions before charging off with the regulator’s pen." and 2)"ACT will ensure that property rights are never taken without compensation."

Now if you want to tell me what I;ve distorted then go right ahead.

It's the same in ACT's 'goals' for RMA amendment: "# To provide for compensation for the removal of common law property rights." [www.act.org.nz/action/campaigns/manifesto2002/resource.html]

It's the same in Gerry Eckhoff's arguments for property rights: "The unequivocal statement “no taking without compensation” ensures the Crown cannot resume (sic) land – for roads, airports and other ‘public goods’ – without compensation. It is, however, the Crown’s right to ‘take’ land to ensure continuation of essential services, and to avoid ‘hold out’." [www.act.org.nz/item.aspx/23727]

And it's the same in ACT's environment policy: "Improve the security of property rights by establishing a prima facie right of compensation for regulatory takings." [www.act.org.nz/action/campaigns/manifesto2002/environment.html]

6/02/2005 03:51:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

What you did was picked the last sentence from a large section on property rights. You presented this as if it was the whole argument. You presented this as "ACT says the government can take someones property for any nilly willy reason."

First, Rodney did not discuss if there were legitimate reasons the government could take private property and what those reasons were. You present it as if this was the subject of discussion.

Second, almost the whole of Rodney's speech was devoted to property rights and that they should be strengthened significantly. You don't even acknowledge that.

Thirdly, at the end he acknowledged that there might be cases that sometimes national interest rise above the interest of property owners. That might be a point of difference between PC and ACT, but I doubt that. He did not specify those cases, probably the allocated length of the speech did not suffice to go into details here nor was it the subject proper of his address.


And let me ask you: do the Libertarianz believe that property rights are sacrosanct under all circumstances? Even in cases of national defense or when the property rights of many others are threatened? Examples are imminent invasion, some property must be confiscated to build defenses, or bio security, i.e. the rabid defense in Australia, or spraying against the pepper moth.

Do the Libertarianz believe that even if to save the property rights of thousands of others, one should never confiscate a single property?

6/03/2005 08:11:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

Berend, you said, "What you did was pick the last sentence from a large section on property rights."

What I did was link to the speech, and quote the sentence that explained what precisely would be done to protect 'the sanctity of private property rights.'

Of the speech only one quarter was devoted to discussing property rights, and of that quarter all of it other than the sentence I quoted was full of good ringing phrases explaining why property rights are important -- none of which I would disagree with - but only the last sentence specificied what exactly is being promised. And, as I've found all too often with ACT over the last nine years, the actual policy -- the bottom lne if you will -- is not all that is promoted in the big ticket promises.

I also quoted above several other examples of the same thing in the comments above, including policy anouncements (with links)where ACT specify what they mean by protecting private property rights, and it's the same thing. I'm not doing this to be mean, Berend, I've followed ACT's progress on property rights over the years, and I've had this argument with Gerry and Stephen Franks about what a policy of protecting property rights would lok like; it appears to be Stephen who is setting this policy, and he claims that the electorate won't accept anything more. To be fair it's an improvement from what ACT advocated eight or nine years ago, but it's still not there, is it?

"You presented this as "ACT says the government can take someones property for any nilly willy reason."

No, I represented what is promised, and I explained why it is wrong. You surely do agree it is wrong, I hope? If you can find anything from ACT that specifies anything different for the protection of property rights then go right ahead – that’s all there is.

“Thirdly, at the end he acknowledged that there might be cases that sometimes national interest rise above the interest of property owners.” No, he didn’t Berend. I’m afraid you’re guilty now of reading what you’d like to be there, not what is actually there. There’s nothing of this at all.

“And let me ask you: do the Libertarianz believe that property rights are sacrosanct under all circumstances? .. Examples are imminent invasion, some property must be confiscated to build defenses, or bio security, i.e. the rabbit defense in Australia, or spraying against the pepper moth. Do the Libertarianz believe that even if to save the property rights of thousands of others, one should never confiscate a single property?”

I don’t believe there’s any case in peacetime where this is necessary, no, and it’s peacetime we’re concerned with, isn’t it? Rabbit-proof fences and the like can be routed in a voluntary manner, as I explain in Pylons v Property Rights. Common law can deal with other cases under the principle in Rylands v Fletcher, ie., of being responsible for what is on or brought on to your property.

6/03/2005 09:02:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

Actually Berend, why don't you ask Rodney this question:

'Given that a Regulatory Responsibility Act will at best only fix new legislation, and githeven what you say in your spech about the Resource Management Act, why don't you advocate its abolition?'

See what answer you get, and then see who your problem is with -- Rodney or me.

6/03/2005 09:06:00 am  

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